Thursday, 30 October 2014
Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, Safe Rates Campaign
Earlier today a number of members in the House made members' statements about the importance of the Safe Rates campaign and the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. But 90 seconds is not really enough to do the importance of this campaign justice.
Government members interjecting—
I will repeat it for a third time for those opposite: our road networks are a workplace—just like this workplace or any other workplace—and it is important that all of us ensure that workplace is just as safe as any other. Statistics from 2012 show that road transport workers are 15 times more likely than any other worker to be killed at work. If this was a ratio that existed in a childcare centre, in a university or in any other industry there would be outrage and radical reform. Yet, because this is on our roads—because it is a hidden workplace, which many do not see as a workplace—it is not being addressed adequately.
That is one of the reasons the previous government worked with the industry—not just with the Transport Workers Union, but with the industry—to introduce the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. Remuneration related pressures—particularly payment by results—and low pay rates force drivers to drive while fatigued, skip breaks, speed, overload and undertake other dangerous behaviours. Drivers quite often reported being under pressure from clients: clients are putting pressure on drivers to get to their destination more quickly than is safe. Economically powerful industry clients have commercial influence, and they demand cheaper and more efficient contracts from transport companies. Quite frankly, some of the contracts these drivers are being forced to drive are simply unsafe from the beginning. That is why there is a need for such a tribunal in our trucking industry.
Honourable members interjecting—
The key to solving the industry's safety crisis is to look vertically through the transport supply chain and focus on the role of powerful and influential clients. That is why it is so important to bring industry, clients and the workforce together, through the union, to discuss this issue constructively.
Road safety is a major issue. It is a big issue particularly in country areas. Roads are the workplace of so many people in my electorate. Look at the tragic media reports of so many people who have lost their lives in road incidents involving truck drivers. The Calder Highway, unfortunately, has a number of black spots. Earlier this year, in March, a 33-year-old man was taken to hospital after a truck he was driving collided with a semitrailer. In Singleton, a couple in their 80s were killed in a crash after they collided head-on with a truck. In September 2012, a victim who was only 19 collided with a truck near Bendigo at Marong, an area that is increasingly populated with more and more homes. This creates a conflict between residential drivers and commercial truck drivers. An elderly woman died after her car collided with a truck just north of Bendigo; this woman died just near Elmore. These are some of the many tragic stories that feature in our newspapers too regularly and too often. This is why it is so important that there is action.
Our roads are workplaces for thousands of truck drivers and TWU members and, like all workers, they deserve the right to go home at the end of the day. That is why it is so important our government work with industry and its members. (Time expired)